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Some linguistics links

By Estanislao Martínez in MLP
Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 05:04:30 PM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)

Given that much recent discussion (and flamage) on k5 recently has revolved around language, I thought it would be appropriate to link a few things about linguistics.

  • The Fields of Linguistics, an explanation of linguistics for the general public, published by the Linguistic Society of America. Each section is written by prominent scholars in the relevant subfield. The text is somewhat light on actual facts, but covers a lot of ground.
  • Academic Ignorance and Black Intelligence, a 1972 paper by William Labov, one of the most prominent experts in American English dialectology. This is a classic paper in the literature about what is popularly called "Ebonics", but more properly known as African-American Vernacular English (AAVE). (When that paper was written, the name still wasn't in usage, so Labov used "Black Vernacular English").
  • The Ethnologue, 13th Edition, by the Summer Institute of Linguistics. The Ethnologue is the more authoritative guide to what languages are spoken in the world, by whom and where, in which numbers, which languages are related, and such. The Summer Institute of Linguistics is a somewhat controversial non-profit religious organization dedicated to the study and preservation of native languages, as dictated by their linguistic creed.
  • For you people craving a US-centric link, Language Policy is a site about, well, language policy in the US. Bilingual education, multilingual ballots, public services in minority languages, etc. Not much (if anything) about AAVE, though.
  • Last, but definitely not least, a list of swear words in Canadian French, so you can start spicing up your speech. Mautadit tabarnak d'esti...

Meta comment: isn't it much better if an MLP has many links about some topic, instead of a single one?


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Related Links
o recent
o discussion
o The Fields of Linguistics
o Linguistic Society of America
o Academic Ignorance and Black Intelligence
o William Labov
o Ethnologue , 13th Edition
o Summer Institute of Linguistics
o linguistic creed
o Language Policy
o a list of swear words in Canadian French
o Also by Estanislao Martínez

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Some linguistics links | 15 comments (14 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
Hmm... (none / 0) (#1)
by trhurler on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 01:07:44 PM EST

I voted don't care because... well, you can probably guess. Nothing against it, no particular interest in it. However, I'm curious about something tangentially related. Maybe I've missed the discussions you're thinking of; I've seen lots of cases where people argued about the meanings of words, and I've seen a lot of grammar, spelling, and so on nitpicks in editorial comments, but where are these discussions which apparently touch on the subject of linguistics? I'm not saying they aren't here, but you can probably see why a link or two could prove handy.

Also, on a less serious note, does linguistics have anything to do with Guinness? If it does, then maybe I should investigate...

Geh. I just realized this is one of those comments you don't know whether to make editorial or topical. Oh well.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

The magic of the web. (5.00 / 1) (#6)
by elenchos on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 02:08:12 PM EST

    where are these discussions which apparently touch on the subject of linguistics?
Where indeed? Where oh where could this discussion have taken place? Let's look again: Hey, those are links. What if we followed them? Ohh! Lets do! The Internet is so fun! Hey look, it is a couple of long ass disussions of language--almost 400 comments all together! And look! Flamage too!

But I don't want to read through all this, do I? No, life is short and that Proust is still gathering dust on my shelf, so how will I find the parts that specifiaclly have the most contentious debate over linguistics? Grep "linguistics flamage"? Drat! Hey, what person would we expect to be at the center of any language arguament? Hmmm... I know! It is none other than Estanislao Martínez himself! I'll just search for his name in the page and...

Hey... It is all clear to me. Incredible. I've got to tell my mom about this amazing new internet thing!

Not that I care about language discussins of course. I don't care. I have more imprortant things to think about. This doesn't matter at all to me. Gosh, gotta go. I just realized there is some more stuff I don't care about either and so have to go post a 5,000 word diary entry about how unimportatnt it is to me...

[ Parent ]

may I (none / 0) (#12)
by camadas on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 07:12:16 PM EST

frame your post ?
Love it.

Cheers ?

[ Parent ]
Mrs. Edna Graustien probably wouldn't care... (none / 0) (#13)
by elenchos on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 07:50:29 PM EST

...especially these days. She cares for nothing nowadays but that demon whiskey and she talks of little else. Well, that and her immortal soul, so I'm sure if you told her you would pray to Jesus to forgive her for her for her sinful and voluptuous ways, she would authorize any damn thing you want. Not that it would matter much. I tried to frame a post once (it was trhurrler's famous heartrending "You have no idea what having a leaky colostomy bag is really like" post) and the damage to my girlfriend's computer monitor cost her parents $200. That was $200 earmarked for her abortion by the way, so stop laughing.

[ Parent ]

Hm, that's an interesting question. (none / 0) (#9)
by regeya on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 03:07:28 PM EST

Also, on a less serious note, does linguistics have anything to do with Guinness? If it does, then maybe I should investigate...

I dunno, but go have a pint and see. Is there a subfield of study on drunken ranting? That'd be some funny shit. Damn, if you could actually get a grant to study that...and toss down a few as part of research... ;-)

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

The phonology of drunkenness, and linguist's humor (none / 0) (#10)
by Estanislao Martínez on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 03:43:44 PM EST

There's an old wacky linguistics paper from the 70's called "The phonology of drunkenness" (phonology is the study of how languages organize speech sounds). I really can't remember how the most hilarious quotes went, but it was *really* funny. The methodology consisted of something like buying a bottle of the finest Kentucky bourbon, giving the subject (who wasn't very alcohol tolerant) a few shots to get him thoroughly drunk, and recording his speech. I have no clue what the conclusion was...

It's a minor classic of a tradition among linguists of writing hilarious, yet sometimes semi-serious, papers. Another such classic paper, from 1968 I think, is called "On English sentences without an overt subject", written under the pseudonym "Quang Phuc Dong, Southern Hanoi Institute of Technology" explores the syntax of English sentences like "Fuck you!", and concludes they are not imperatives, in the light of ungrammatical examples of the likes of "*Fuck and describe communism" (what you would get if you try to conjoin with "and" the verbs of the sentences "Fuck communism" and "Describe communism", like in "Describe and condemn communism", which is fine) or the also ungrammatical "*Open the door and fuck you".

Of course, the "Phonolgy of drunkenness" paper nowadays would never get published, and frankly, for good reason. The one on "fuck you" is from a '71 book, reedited in '92 and still in print: Studies out in Left Field: Defamatory Essays Presented to James D. McCawley on the Occassion of his 33rd or 34th Birthday, edited by Zwicky, Salus, Binnick and Vanek. Extremely funny if you are a linguist, incomprehensible otherwise...

[ Parent ]

BEV, whew (5.00 / 1) (#3)
by The Cunctator on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 01:33:58 PM EST

That Black English Vernacular paper is mind-boggling. It shows the basic problem of social science: in the end, it all depends on a moral and cultural bias. For example, what is the goal of language? Is there anything good about talkin' jive? (One assertion is that it allows arguments to be expressed extremely pithily: e.g. "You know, like some people say if you're good an' shit, your spirit goin' t'heaven...'n' if you bad, your spirit goin' to hell. Well, bullshit! Your spirit goin' to hell anyway, good or bad.")

All I can say, is that the defining cultural bias of our time is at once very different from that of this paper and at the same time very similar: there are many prevailing biases today that would seem ludicrous in other times or other societies, such as the acceptance of money as speech, or of the death penalty, or of pre-marital sex.

You can probably guess what my bias is towards those three issues.

Nice "timely" posting. (5.00 / 2) (#4)
by Faulty Dreamer on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 01:34:13 PM EST

I voted +1 section, but would like to add a comment.

I believe the poster takes linquistical attacks too personally. I have seen and been involved in a couple of the thread attacking bad speaking skills and just seem to see this same pattern emerging. Someone says something against the way a specific person speaks or writes (the two I've been involved in have been flames against George W. Bush) and Estanislao takes it as an attack either against him or some other group. I honestly think it is taken far, far too seriously. We should expect our President to be able to speak the language of his country.

However, having said that I would like to say that this actually is a good article. People could use a little more formal materials on language, grammar and usage (including me). I will be reading more of the linked to material later today to be sure.

I realize some people will see the article as useless, but as a hobbiest, writing is a passion of mine. I intent to take every chance I can to learn more about language.

Faulty Dreams - Barking at the moon 24/7...

If you think I'm an asshole, it's only because you haven't realized what a fucking idiot I am. - Faulty Dreamer

hobbyist (none / 0) (#5)
by Speare on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 02:00:09 PM EST

hobbiest -> hobbyist

Nothing personal, not an attack :) but I've seen this misuse a couple times in the past week on k5. "Hobbiest" sounds like "the most hobby", where "hobbyist" is "one who engages in hobby".
[ e d @ h a l l e y . c c ]
[ Parent ]

Thanks. (none / 0) (#7)
by Faulty Dreamer on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 02:17:05 PM EST

Duly noted and forever filed away in my computer like mind.


Faulty Dreams - Barking at the moon 24/7...

If you think I'm an asshole, it's only because you haven't realized what a fucking idiot I am. - Faulty Dreamer
[ Parent ]

Dude (none / 0) (#8)
by OriginalGTT on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 02:38:47 PM EST

I am much hobbier than you.

I'm NOT on your level. Stay there, and I will stay up here where morals are high, and the air is sweet
[ Parent ]
Remember, (5.00 / 1) (#11)
by trhurler on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 05:51:40 PM EST

Linguists, by and large, are not normal human beings. They believe things that most of us think are ridiculous. Among these beliefs is usually a claim that "prescriptive" rules for language are at best a necessary evil. They justify this using all kinds of claims that have nothing to do with linguistics and everything to do with fields such as economics and political science, which most of them know nothing about. Essentially, it is politically correct "boost his self esteem and don't crush his identity and don't discriminate against him" horse shit. We all know that anyone of reasonable intelligence can learn to use language according to the generally accepted standards of what is proper, and we all know that it isn't always necessary, but to claim that businesses should, for instance, hire salespeople who are going to put customers off by speaking like uneducated gangsters is hardly the mark of a great mind. Then again, there are precious few great minds in the world, and most of them don't waste their lives in academia anymore.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
One More (none / 0) (#14)
by MmmmJoel on Fri Mar 23, 2001 at 12:33:22 AM EST

Another very interesting read that was posted in my topic is Chapter 12 of Stephen Pinker's book, Language Instinct. He titles it Language Mavens.

Candian French swearing (none / 0) (#15)
by CrazyJub on Fri Mar 23, 2001 at 09:35:25 AM EST

For those of you who don't know, almost the entire vocabulary of french swear words is taken directly from the catholic church, any other Canadians can back me up on this one.

Câlice = Chalice
Tabernacle, Sacrement, Sacrifice..add a few english swear words and voila!

There was a book called the Anglo survival guide to living in Quebec, and it had a whole chapter on this.

If you pissed off a quebecker, he might say to you...
"Calice estie de tabarnac de dieu, mon esite!"

Which is supposed to mean..
"Go F$%& yourself you bastard!"

But literal translation leaves...
"Lord, bless your tabernacle oh holy one."

Sounds funny, but it aint that far from the truth!

Some linguistics links | 15 comments (14 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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